|Solanum subsp. var.|
Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon (the tomatoes) or Cyphomandra are included in Solanum as subgenera or sections today. Thus, the genus nowadays contains roughly 1,500-2,000 species. The species usually called nightshade in North America and England is Solanum dulcamara, also called bittersweet and woody nightshade. Its foliage and egg-shaped red berries are poisonous, the active principle being solanine, which can cause convulsions and death if taken in large doses. The black nightshade (S. nigrum) is also generally considered poisonous, but its fully ripened fruit and foliage are cooked and eaten in some areas.
The generic name was first used by Pliny the Elder (23-79) for a plant also known as strychnos, most likely S. nigrum. Its derivation is uncertain, possibly stemming from the Latin word sol, meaning "sun," referring to its status as a plant of the sun. Another possibility is that the root was solare, meaning "to soothe," or solamen, meaning "a comfort," which would refer to the soothing effects of the plant upon ingestion.
Most parts of the plants, especially the green parts and unripe fruit, are poisonous to humans (although not necessarily to other animals), but many species in the genus bear some edible parts, such as fruits, leaves, or tubers. Several species are cultivated, including three globally important food crops:
Other species are significant food crops regionally, such as Ethiopian Eggplant and gilo (S. aethiopicum), naranjilla or lulo (S. quitoense), Turkey Berry (S. torvum), pepino (S. muricatum), or the "bush tomatoes" (several Australian species).
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Solanum (Latin, solamen, solace or quieting). Solanaceae. Nightshade. A vast group of temperate and tropical herbs, shrubs and even trees, comparatively poorly represented in temperate North America, of various horticultural adaptabilities, comprising ornamental subjects and also the potato, tomato, eggplant, ground cherry or physalis, red pepper or capsicum; also medicinal plants.
Leaves alternate: infl. mostly sympodial and therefore superaxillary or opposite the lvs.: corolla gamopetalous and rotate or shallow-campanulate, plaited in the bud, the limb angled or shallow-lobed; stamens usually 5, inserted on the throat of the corolla, the anthers narrower or elongated and connivent and mostly opening by an apical pore or slit; ovary usually 2-loculed, ripening into a berry which is sometimes inclosed in the persistent calyx; fls. white, purple or yellow.— The genus finds its greatest extension in Trop. Amer. Of the vast number of species, barely 25 are of much account horticulturally, and half that number will comprise all the species that are popularly well known. One of these is the potato, Solanum tuberosum, one of the leading food plants of the human race. The genus seems to abound in plants with toxic properties, although its bad reputation in this respect is probably exaggerated. The species are herbs in temperate climates, but in warm countries many of them are shrubby and some are small trees. Many of them are climbers. It is impracticable to distribute the few cult. species into the various botanical groups of a great genus, and the following species are therefore assembled mainly on a horticultural plan.
S. auriculatum, Ait., is allied to S. verbascifolium, and is sometimes mistaken for it. Lvs. 6-7 in. long, ovate-oblong, acuminate, entire, velvety-tomentose above with branched hairs, more densely so and paler below, axils furnished with small lvs.: corymbs sub- terminal, many-fld.; corolla violet, about 1/2 in. across: berry globose. Afr.—S. betaceum, Cav., is Cyphomandra.—S. cernuum, Velloz. Shrub or small tree, with cyphomandra-like lvs. and the young parts clothed with chaffy hairs: fls. white: fr. globose, hairy, inclosed in the calyx. S. Brazil. B.M. 7491.—S. Commersonii, "Violet," which attracted much attention a few years ago, is S. tuberosum, being similar to, if not identical with the variety known as "Blue Giant."—S. corymbosum, Jacq. A fetid rather weak, unarmed, branched half-shrub: lvs. 2-5 in. long, glabrous except for the ciliate margins, ovate or lanceolate, entire or slightly lobed: fls. about 1/2 in. diam., blue or violet: fr. reddish orange, 1/4 – 2/3 in. diam. Native of Peru.—S. erectum is Cyphomandra betaceum.—S. Pierreanum, Paill. & Bois, has fr. the size of a walnut and shaped like a tomato, scarlet.—S. stoloniferum, Schlecht. & Bouche. Tuber-bearing: lvs. with 3-4 pairs of pinnae, the interposed ones very numerous; lfts. mostly subcordate at the base and acuminate at the apex, sparingly pubescent with scattered flattened hairs on the upper surface, usually only along the veins on the lower surface, but puberulent on both surfaces: calyx glabrous, the lobes about the length of the tube; corolla white.—S. tubingense and S. Darwinianum said to be graft hybrids of Lycopersicum esculentum and S. nigrum produced by Prof. Winkler of Tubingen.—S. verbascifolium, Linn. Lvs. lanceolate-ovate, or ovate-oblong, entire, tomentose, without smaller lvs. in the axils: fls. rather small, white: fr. the size of a small cherry. Widely distributed in the tropics. CH
Pests and diseases
Broken out by subgenus.
Subgenus Solanum sensu stricto
Other notable species
Formerly placed here
Some plants of yet other genera also were placed in Solanum in former times:
- Chamaesaracha coronopus (as S. coronopus)
- Lycianthes biflora (as S. multifidum Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don)
- Lycianthes denticulata (as S. gouakai var. angustifolium and var. latifolium)
- Lycianthes lycioides (as S. lycioides var. angustifolium)
- Lycianthes mociniana (as S. uniflorum Dunal in Poir. and S. uniflorum Sessé & Moc.)
- Lycianthes rantonnetii (as S. rantonnetii, S. urbanum var. ovatifolium and var. typicum)
- Undetermined species of Lycianthes have been referred to under names such as S. chrysophyllum, S. ciliatum Blume ex Miq., S. corniculatum Hiern, S. lanuginosum, S. loxense, S. mucronatum, S. retrofractum var. acuminatum, S. violaceum Blume, S. violifolium f. typicum, S. virgatum notst ß albiflorum, S. uniflorum Lag. or S. uniflorum var. berterianum.
- ↑ Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 4 R-Z. Taylor and Francis US. p. 2058. ISBN 9780849326783. http://books.google.com/books?id=2ndDtX-RjYkC&.